What made the Wildcat Wild?
X:1 T:What made the Wildcat Wild S:Jess Humphries M:C| L:1/8 R:Two-Step Q:"Moderate" D:OKeh Records 45501 (78 RPM), The Humphries Brothers (1930) F:https://www.slippery-hill.com/content/what-makes-wildcat-wild Z:Transcribed by Andrew Kuntz K:C A[_EB]-|[=E2c2]B2 AG2[_EB]-|[=Ec][Ec]B2 AG2[_EB]-|[=Ec]Bcd- dcde|f2e2dA2[E^c]-| [F2d2][E2c2]BG2[E^c]-|[F2d2][E2c2]BG2D-|DEFG ABBA|G2 (g/f/g/f/) g2[_E2B2]-| [=E2c2]B2 AG2[_EB]-|[=Ec][Ec]B2 AG2[_EB]-|[=Ec]Bcd- dcde|f2e2dA3| a2ga- aged|cdef gfed|A2AB- BAG2|[E6c6]:|| |:ef|g6 ec|G6ef|g2g2f2e2|[M:3/2]defd A6 de| [M:C|]f6dB|G6GA|B2AB- BGAB|G6 ef| g6ec|G6 AB|c2c2B2_B2|A6 (3efg| a2ga- agfd|cdef gfed|A2AB- BAG2|[E6c6]:||
WHAT MADE THE WILDCAT WILD?. AKA - "What makes a Wildcat Wild?" American, Two-Step (cut time). C Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. "What made a Wildcat Wild" was recorded in San Antonio, Texas, in June, 1930, by the duo The Humphries Brothers, but was not issued until early 1931. The Humphries Brothers, Cecil (guitar) and Jess (fiddle), recorded eight sides for Okeh Records then, but did not record again. The second strain shares melodic material with "Ragtime Annie (1)", which the Humphries brothers also recorded in the same session (as "Ragged Ann Rag"). According to country music researcher and writer Bill Malone, the brothers were from
...the region around Burnet, Texas, [where they] won a large local following playing for civic functions, at fiddlers’ contests, at the annual Old Settlers’ Reunion in Round Rock, and on Central Texas radio stations (such as KUT, Austin’s first radio station, which was located at the University of Texas). They made only eight recordings for the Okeh label in 1930 (presumably not enough to warrant a modern reissue) and were not widely known outside Central Texas. Their repertory was characterized by the eclecticism generally found among southwestern fiddle bands. Not surprisingly, “Listen to the Mockingbird” was their most-requested tune (it was almost mandatory for fiddlers everywhere to play it), but Jess also knew such tunes as “Beaumont Rag,” “Ragtime Annie,” “Black and White Rag,” and “St. Louis Tickle.” He was an unusual old-time fiddler indeed, since he also played trombone in an army band during World War I, was the organizer and “violinist” of one of Central Texas’s first Dixieland bands, and was a popular musician at weddings and similar social occasions with his pianist wife, Cynthia.
The title, "What made/makes the wildcat wild", pre-existed the Humphries Brothers 1930 recording, however. There was a 1918 song called "That's what makes a Wildcat Wild" and a Feb. 18th, 1921, news story in The Thresher (Rice Institute, Houston Texas) referred to "the battle song of the Farmers: 'What makes the wildcat wild, boys." The article explains the wildcat had just been selected by Texas A & M University as their sports mascot (conveniently, the university had wildcats in its zoo)--
No student has ever heard the air ("Wildcat") played through for the hearing always drowns the music out. When the band strikes up "Wildcat" cadets have always removed their hats, and have risen with yells that last from the first crash of the song until the last strain has died away.
Perhaps Cecil and Jess were football fans.
- Bill Malone, Country Music USA, 1968, pp. 190-191.